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Bush Agrees To Submit to Federal Court Review of NSA Surveillance Program

Jay at Stop the ACLU quotes this Reuters report.

The White House, in a policy reversal, has agreed to allow a federal court review of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, a top Senate Republican announced on Thursday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he has negotiated a proposed bill with the White House that would do that and voiced hope his panel would approve it.

"We have structured a bill which is agreeable to the White House and I think will be agreeable to this committee," Specter told the panel.

Allahpundit has more. I will update when details become available..

Update: Stop the ACLU has an update at the link above, and a link to the AP story.

The legislation would authorize the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's most high-profile monitoring operations, said the Pennsylvania Republican.

"You have here a recognition by the president that he does not have a blank check," Specter told his committee

Since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the NSA has been eavesdropping on the international calls and e-mails of people inside the United States when terrorism is suspected. Breaking with historic norms, the president authorized the actions without a court warrant.

The disclosure of the program in December sparked outrage among Democrats and civil liberties advocates who said Bush overstepped his authority as president.

Specter said the legislation, which has not yet been made public, was the result of "tortuous" negotiations with the White House since June.

"If the bill is not changed, the president will submit the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Specter said. "That is the president's commitment."

It wasn't immediately clear how strong or enduring the judicial oversight would be.

An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the bill's language gives the president the option of submitting the program to the intelligence court, rather than making the review a requirement.


I have not digested the specifics yet (actually no real details are known yet) but this may end up being a smart move in some ways. The first thing that occured to me is that if the program gets the FISA court stamp of approval, the critics hollering that the President broke the law will look even more foolish than they currently do. If that is possible.

Update II: MacRanger sees a smirk behind this one.


Comments (34)

Just in time for the fall e... (Below threshold)
virgo1:

Just in time for the fall elections, What a coincidence?

Not actually going to accom... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Not actually going to accomplish much, since all of NSA's domestic programs were already subject to review.

Exactly. Congressional Repu... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Exactly. Congressional Republicans understand what a burden the Bush adminstration has turned out to be on their re-election. Specter (R-PA) is smart enough to realize that.

...or perhaps, the revelati... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

...or perhaps, the revelation of the program has proven such a disaster and recent terror attacks in India and the catching of the terror cell in Canada shows we need the program so much the WH is willing to comprmise to get anything back up and running.

Maybe....just maybe the concern has nothing to do with an election and has to do with the job of protecting the country...something the Dems seem to hold as an alien concept.

Very true Faith+1, Your tak... (Below threshold)
virgo1:

Very true Faith+1, Your take makes much more sense..

I don't understand why a bi... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I don't understand why a bill is needed to get the administration to do what it was legally required to do in the first place, but I'm glad that they're coming around to accepting judicial oversight. That is all those of us who objected to this program wanted.

Maybe....just maybe the ... (Below threshold)
vero:

Maybe....just maybe the concern has nothing to do with an election and has to do with the job of protecting the country...something the Dems seem to hold as an alien concept.

BINGO! sorry Democrats, if protecting this country and my family works out bad for you and doesnt allow your nut-jobs to get elected

the revelation of the pr... (Below threshold)
mantis:

the revelation of the program has proven such a disaster and recent terror attacks in India and the catching of the terror cell in Canada shows we need the program so much the WH is willing to comprmise to get anything back up and running.

First of all, why do you think the program was suspended and needs to be "back up and running". As far as I know they never stopped. The Canada cell was caught by trolling the internet (not that kind of trolling, well, kind of) for terrorist chatter, and I have no idea what the India bombing could have to do with it. So, yeah, I don't think so.

...we need the program s... (Below threshold)
Lee:

...we need the program so much the WH is willing to comprmise to get anything back up and running.

Ignoring the mindless cheerleading that takes place in these comments (YA!!! OUR SIDE ROOLS! DEMS SUCK!)...

...critics of the NSA have not been successful at stopping any of the programs. I don't understand "back up and running" -- what isn't running? What have those evil, MSM-loving Democrats done that you hope Specter's hearings will fix?

So Specter wants to limit t... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

So Specter wants to limit the NSA's ability to stop an attack before it occurs. Are they really that childish because they lost homeland security funds. Looks like they have adopted the terrorists tactics, launch an attack from where you want an attack to occur so you can say civilians were killed.
The next attack on the U.S. will be compliments of the U.S. congress and their wounded ego's.

I'm confused, I thought I w... (Below threshold)

I'm confused, I thought I was following, rather closely, all the programs that the papers were revealing to the terrorists, but I'm afraid I'm not aware of any domestic spying programs. Anybody care to help a fella out? There have been a lot of things the press has reported without any evidence apart from 'unnamed sources', but the only things the administration has discussed were the international calls involving known terrorists and their affiliates and the banking transaction monitoring. What 'domestic spying' program are they talking about?

Most likely, this is just t... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Most likely, this is just theatre, like much of what goes on in Washington.
It allows the politicians to show that they are doing something and helps give the activists a warm fuzzy. And everybody will pretend that it really matters, and that they were part of the solution.

Specter doesn't want to lim... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Specter doesn't want to limit any security-related matters. What do you guys knee-jerk react so quickly?

Specter is a Republican, and hasn't he previously expressed concerns about the WH running ahead of Congress, ignoring the collaboration and support that Congressional Republicans seek with the WH? You guys do get your news from someplace other than conservartive blogs, don't you?

It's not surprising he'd seek out a dialog - since Bush and company have really done the Congressional Republicans a disservice in this area. The fact that he has to hold hearings to hold the WH accountable to Congressional Republicans shows exactly how far off the WH is in their current ways.

While Scrapiron isn't privy... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

While Scrapiron isn't privy to what Spectre thinks or why he does what he does, I am quite certain that neither do you, Lee.

SCSI - The fact that Specte... (Below threshold)
Lee:

SCSI - The fact that Specter has voiced concerns over the WH running ahead of Congress before, where the WH failed at keeping Congress in the loop, makes it easy to see that Specter isn't critical of what the WH is doing, but how. The WH would rather keep all of Congress in the dark rather then reveal to liberals the extent that the WH is running roughshod over our civil liberties.

Well, Specter is refusing to continue to lick boots - hurrah for that, but that in no way means Specter has gone soft on security. Statements that he has are just knee-jerk rhetoric from WH cheerleaders who will leap to slam anyone who dares to cast a shadow on the king.

Damn, you're an ignorant ba... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Damn, you're an ignorant bastard, Lee...Just like that moron Specter.

Listkeeper - another WH che... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Listkeeper - another WH cheerleader - right on cue.

Lee, grow a brain. If you e... (Below threshold)
jdavenport:

Lee, grow a brain. If you end up with extra, give some to mantis.

Congressional authorities, and likely most congressmen, new about the NSA program. They didn't bring it up because:

1) If anything went wrong, they could blame the executive
2) They deemed the program within bounds
3) They could avoid this stupid mess where morons that don't understand power demand the hobbling of the executive during a time of war, when in reality his power was already adequately checked

Now the morons are demandiing it, and congress is hopefully going to deliver the illusion of it. The reason the administration is demanding that the legislation deliver the OPTION of bypassing the courts is because without that IT WOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL. As historically ruled and recently reaffirmed by the high court itself.

But go ahead and feel comforted by the action. You are in fact the intended audience for this charade.

No, just someone who's tire... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

No, just someone who's tired of your perpetual stupidity and ignorance.

Lee,As opposed to yo... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Lee,
As opposed to your knee jerk Bush Bad reaction to everything?
People wouldn't give you nearly as much flak if we thought there was critical thought coming from you, rather than a default setting of hysteria.

Interesting is it not? fol... (Below threshold)
Bowling:

Interesting is it not? folks like Lee screamed bloody murder that these taps be allowed to go on to a federal court, for review of the NSA's domestic spying program, and when it happens, guess what? More bloody screaming - cannot please the anti-American, anti-military, anti-family, anti-church, anti-business, bloody murder screamers.

Like, who cares what they think, seriously who really cares

Bowling, my sentiments exac... (Below threshold)

Bowling, my sentiments exactly

Scrap the NSA program. Anyt... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Scrap the NSA program. Anything that is submitted to the FISA court may as well include the terrorist times for an info copy. That will save then about 30 minutes of delay in publishing National Security Secrets. No one ever investigated the FISA judge that resigned to see if he was 'one' of the leakers or did they already know it for a fact.
The only requirement to be a traitor is to be a dumorat, that makes it automatic.

First off, Here is Sen Spec... (Below threshold)
Lee:

First off, Here is Sen Specter a month ago, speaking on another concern Congress has had over the WH running amok: (news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060622/pl_nm/congress_bush1_dc_1)

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration will have to explain why it thinks it can ignore or overrule laws passed by Congress in a hearing next week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said on Wednesday.

Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said he hoped to force the Bush administration to reduce its use of "signing statements" -- memos that reserve the right to ignore laws if the president thinks they impinge on his authority.

"Our legislation doesn't amount to anything if the president can say, 'My constitutional authority supersedes the statute.' And I think we've got to lay down the gauntlet and challenge him on it," Specter said in a telephone interview."

...which is further evidence that Specter has a problem with the way the WH is operating.

jdavenport said:

"Congressional authorities, and likely most congressmen, new about the NSA program. They didn't bring it up because:

1) If anything went wrong, they could blame the executive
2) They deemed the program within bounds
3) They could avoid this stupid mess where morons that don't understand power demand the hobbling of the executive during a time of war, when in reality his power was already adequately checked"

That's not true, that Congress knows what is going on -- Just last weekend news broke (emphsis added) -- (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/09/AR2006070900705.html?nav=rss_nation/special)

Hoekstra Urges Bush to Impart Intelligence Details

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 10, 2006; Page A07

The Bush administration briefed top lawmakers on a significant intelligence program only after a key Republican committee chairman angrily complained of being left in the dark, the chairman said yesterday.

House intelligence committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) would not describe the program, but he said it was significant enough that the administration should have briefed him and others voluntarily, without waiting for them to learn of it through government tipsters.

Note that this is exactly what I was suggesting the Republicans do last week - take the initiative to get ahead of the curve, and provide oversight so the Friggin' New York Times doesn't have to...

But note that this just broke last weekend, and it added fire to the Specter's call to learn more about what the WH is up to, and made the WH agreeable to the hearings Specter has initiated. You see the results today.

NOTE: Add to this the fact that the SCOTUS ruled Bush's military tribunals illegal and you have a damn near revolution against the White House, led by Congressional Republicans and the majority of the Supreme Court.

More bloody screaming...... (Below threshold)
Lee:

More bloody screaming...

I'm not complaining. This is great news for me. Your comment to the contrary is just another example of how wrong-headed you guys are about things that are plainly obvious.

Instead of attacking what I say - you attack me. Play on... but quit hijacking the thread and trying to make it about me, or about "us versus them" - we're all (well, us adults anyway) are just commenting on the news, but from different perspectives. If you can't think of anything to say about Specter's call for hearings, why can't you keep your ugly pie holes shut?

/rant

"Add to this the fact that ... (Below threshold)

"Add to this the fact that the SCOTUS ruled Bush's military tribunals illegal and you have a damn near revolution against the White House"

If only the Cuban revolutionaries were so weak...

SCOTUS: 'Sir, you cannot run these terrorists through military tribunals. You can keep them locked up the way you have them until the last trumpet sounds, but no military tribunals. Unless Congress agrees that military tribunals are the way to go. Then it's OK. But you can still just keep them locked up if you want.'

Yeah, quite the smack down.

Lee: "Instead of attacking ... (Below threshold)
jdavenport:

Lee: "Instead of attacking what I say - you attack me."

One small poke, the rest was content. Heres some more.

"House intelligence committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) ...said it was significant enough that the administration should have briefed him ... without waiting for ... government tipsters."

1) Fine, but they didn't say that about the NSA program. Some dems tried, but it was clear that intelligence commitee members had in fact known about it.

Wasn't this about the NSA program?

2) The court was wrong on the GITMO ruling, which was 5-4 if I recall. I can't remember the cases surrounding the FISA stuff, but the vote was more secure if I recall correctly. As well as historically, repeatedly, validated.

But even if you agree with the GITMO ruling (Hamden is it?), it didn't say what you think it said. It's forcing the legislature's hand more than the executive's. It said that the legislature had to step up to the plate and clarify the methodology. In effect, they are removing option 1 from my list - no longer can the legislature hide behind the executive and cry to the courts on the matter. Instead, the legislature will be held politically accountable.

Again, I disagree with the ruling, but I hope like hell the dems argue that foreign terrorists deserve miranda rights... Actually, I don't. I hope they are reasonable. Not captured by the nut-roots.

JDavenport, this isn't even... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

JDavenport, this isn't even about The NSA Surveillance Program....


What the WH has decided to go with is judicial monitoring of NSA's domestic surveillance programs... which they actually already had.

jadvenport, There are multi... (Below threshold)
Lee:

jadvenport, There are multiple intelligence programs underway, and since Hoekstra didn't reveal the secret program he is referring to, we don't know if it is a NSA program or not. Hoekstra wasn't specific:

Hoekstra said the briefings took place after he complained in a May 18 letter to President Bush of hearing about "alleged Intelligence Community activities" not described to committee members in classified briefings. "If these allegations are true," he wrote to Bush, "they may represent a breach of responsibility by the Administration, a violation of law and . . . a direct affront to me and the Members of this committee."

jdavenpoprt: "2) The court was wrong on the GITMO ruling, which was 5-4 if I recall. I can't remember the cases surrounding the FISA stuff, but the vote was more secure if I recall correctly. As well as historically, repeatedly, validated."

The SCOTUS vote was 5-3, why Republicans keep misrepesenting that as 5-4 is beyond me.

"But even if you agree with the GITMO ruling (Hamden is it?), it didn't say what you think it said. It's forcing the legislature's hand more than the executive's."

Congressional legislation is a possible solution, but what the decision said was that the commissions, as constituted, were illegal because Congress hasn't authroized it specifically, and conseqently the White House had overstepped their bounds. Much to King Geroge'ss surprise, he is being held accoutable to the law.

I don't translate illegal as meaning anything more than it does.

Look, we all know that these trials will go forward -- hysterics from the right-wing propeller heads notwithstanding -- and that the rule changes that Congress needs to pass won't effect our ability to prosecute in the least. Give the Gitmo detainees all warm milk and cookies for all I care - there will be justice in the end. The guilty ones will be convicted and hopefully fried to a crispy, golden brown.

Lee, regardless of whether ... (Below threshold)
jdavenport:

Lee, regardless of whether Hoekstra was surprised about some revelation of the NSA program or some other program, congress intentionally left the NSA system in the hands of the executive for the purposes of
1) political cover
2) they were satisfied with the status quo

Then when things heat up, they can do what they are doing.
I'm for oversight. So is everyone here. Just don't give me the king george crap. The proper view of the system is competing powers. If the legislature and courts move to reign in the execute, and they succeed in doing so, then thats what happens.
If the executive runs with power and the other branches let him... well, thats the way the friggin system is designed.

We have a different style of war here. The system is seeking balance, and it takes time. Its not easy. But Bush has claimed nothing more than every other president in history. Its just that the situation so asymmetrical that finding a good balance is difficult.

-----

I don't think the GITMO ruling is sound. It smells of usurpation by the court, and an elevation of treaty law above historical standards, and in my opinion, above the U.S. Constitution.

You have a different take, fine. But your always coming in here rambling about King George. Its nonsense.

I take you point on illegal. However, there are cases where legal is unconstitutional (after being ruled that way.) There are reasonable people who think that should be the case in this instance.

"But your always coming ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"But your always coming in here rambling about King George. Its nonsense."

Well, I used to refer to GWB's failed "cowboy diplomacy" but Time magzine ripped me off so I had to come up with a new hat for George.

Apparently Senators Specter, Hoekstra, and others are thinking along the same lines these days, they are equally fed up with King George's arrogance, so why not - "King George" it is.

Uh oh, now I see a real nam... (Below threshold)

Uh oh, now I see a real name calling contest escalating, Lee. If ya gonna continue calling the POTUS names, then you could be a target too:

duplicitousLee
incoherentLee
childishLee
pleonasticLee
tediousLee

etcLee

Whatever, epador.I r... (Below threshold)
jdavenport:

Whatever, epador.
I raised my discourse in response to Lee, since to be fair he had a couple of points.

I get crap in return. Expected really.

Bush is losing virtually nothing regarding NSA. I'm fine if you think he is. Whatever.

The first thing th... (Below threshold)
The first thing that occured to me is that if the program gets the FISA court stamp of approval, the critics hollering that the President broke the law will look even more foolish than they currently do. If that is possible.

C'mon Lorie, consider for a minute the possibility that a judicial review is the goal of the objectors. I'm not a lawyer, but regardless of the legality of Bush's actions, they have to be subject to the doctrine of separation of powers. A legitimate blank check is just as dangerous as a forged one.

I even voted for the guy, but there's nothing that will convince me to give a blank check to someone who has the power to reduce my freedom. Bush swore to protect the Constitution, and I plan to hold him to that.




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